Learning to play guitar is fun, but where do you start? What kind of equipment is necessary? Luckily, once you have a guitar, you can pretty much get started, but just to be safe, here’s what you need to begin.

1. Choose Acoustic or Electric

Between acoustic and electric, pick the one you’re most interested in. Acoustics are great for traveling, as they don’t need amps to project. However, electric guitars have more fret room for squealing solos, and if you want to practice quietly, you can always unplug the amp.

2. Get a Cheap Guitar (Earn the Expensive One)

All the beautiful guitars on the walls of your neighborhood music store aren’t for you… yet. For your first guitar, see if you can get a hand-me-down from a friend or family member. If you want something new, you can easily find a good beginner acoustic guitar for under $300. Learn a few chords and songs before you spend your full paycheck on a Les Paul.

3. Get a Tuner That Gives You Pitch

You can easily download a free chromatic tuner on your mobile phone or use our free online guitar tuner. If you plan on getting an electric guitar, you’ll probably need to buy a physical guitar tuner. (Electric guitars plug into the tuner to use the sound from the pickups.)

4. Get Thinner Strings

Lighter or lower gauges (thinner strings) minimize the soreness in your hands as you start learning. For acoustics, try strings that start with .011 gauge and .010 for electric guitars.

5. Learn Chords

Chords help you build up your hand strength, and they are the building blocks of songs. Most songwriters start with just a chord progression, and you can easily learn many pop songs with just 3 simple guitar chords! Check out our course, 80 Guitar Chords You MUST Know, to get started.

6. Learn Strumming Patterns

How many strumming patterns do you really need to know? Survey says that most intermediate players just know a few. The survey will also tell you that any level player is hungry to learn more and that’s what TrueFire’s 30 Strumming Patterns You MUST Know is all about — a hands-on practical reference guide designed to equip the player with 30 essential strumming patterns for jamming, accompaniment, cover tunes, and original compositions.

7. Get a Free Beginner Course

Our free course, Learn Guitar 1: First Steps for Beginners, is an accelerated, hands-on method specifically designed to get you up and running on guitar quickly and painlessly. No reading music, no boring exercises, and no tedious theory to struggle through. You’ll be strumming your first beginner guitar chords, in the very first guitar lesson. In fact, you’ll play your way through the entire free course!

8. Get Chord Charts

Most chords are movable, and you’ll be surprised at just how many variations the C chord can have. Find alternate fingerings to make your life easier when transitioning between chords. Plus, you might accidentally stumble across that perfect chord variation. Check out our Ultimate Guitar Chord Chart for a free download.

9. Bend Your Finger at the First Knuckle

To ensure you are precise with your finger placement, bend your finger at the first knuckle. The strings should come into contact with your fingertip at a spot that’s just a millimeter or two away from your nail.

10. Don’t Ignore Your Pinkie

Your pinkie may start out as the runt of your hand, but if you give it enough care, it will become your secret weapon. For guitarists, the pinkie is usually the most underdeveloped finger. It’ll be hard at first, but a strong pinkie means some seriously sick shredding in the future.

As you get started, remember regular practice makes all the difference, even if it’s just 30 minutes. Good luck, future virtuosos!